December 2021
We see you 2022!
It's been a wild ride for 2021. We started at insurrection and ended with omicron. Like most everyone, sometimes we've struggled to find the bright spots along the way that keep us sustainable and help us to endure through this work.

Throughout this year, we've grown as individuals and as a team. This has helped our organization grow as well. We adopted a shared leadership model that prioritizes our strengths in co-directorship, and we interrogated our internal culture to create a greater sense of inclusion, autonomy, and achievement for every member of our team. Resulting from that, we have been able to offer more programming through our ACTion Services, reach more folks across Nebraska through virtual programming, and we expanded our table talks with the addition of AAPI Table Talk and Native + Indigenous Table Talk. We are grateful for the opportunity that we've been afforded to move further into dialogues that confront prejudice and uplift communities that experience marginalization.

We're looking enthusiastically at 2022 because not only do we get to continue that work of building equity here in our state, but Inclusive Communities has newly assumed the role of Operations Coordinator for the National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC). The NFJC is a coalition of organizations that do similar work across our nation with the vision of promoting diversity, inclusion, and social justice. As the new Operations Coordinator, Inclusive Communities will be responsible for steering this coalition and growing the awareness of equity-building work at that national level. Through collective action, we believe that we can make a greater impact.

As we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome the new year, we are thinking about this new role on our horizon, our continued growth, and how we do this work in a way that promotes others to join it. Cheers!
Back at IncluCity!
We had the best time at the beginning of December for our return to in-person IncluCity! This was our first in-person camp since January 2020 (before the pandemic was even in the news). So what happens when you get 34 students from four different school districts all together in one room? Well, you see bonds form, you see vulnerable conversations about identity, intersectionality, and bias move young people towards becoming unapologetically themselves, and starting their path of inclusive leadership. We had one school coming all the way from Todd County - they traveled 350 miles to be with us! Three delegates had December birthdays so we ate all the cake. Two Teacher Advisors and seven CITs volunteered at their first camp. And Colin claims that he got 54,327 steps in....that's almost 30 miles!
We had a blast at Friendsgiving 2021!
Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar let us host a virtual book tour for them at the beginning of the year, and they came back to hang out with us in-person at the Waiting Room Lounge for Friendsgiving 2021! It was so much fun to get back together and celebrate our Inclusive Communities friendships with some much needed laughter, libations, and great food from Tastefully Done Personal Chef Services.

Amber and Lacey were able to sign copies of their books and The Bookworm was on site for anyone who wanted to grab a copy in the moment. We also streamed part of Friendsgiving with the awesome support of Digital Moxie. Joe Video caught some highlights.
Last Time Omaha Table Talk
Since our last issue, we've had four awesome Table Talks. In case you missed it, we had Native + Indigenous Table Talk discussing Mental Health in Native and Indigenous Communities, Omaha Table Talk exploring Gender Binary and Non-Binary Experiences, Queer Table Talk on Health Disparities and Healthcare for the Queer Community, and Omaha Table Talk an Interfaith and Atheism Dialogue.

Our Table Talk schedule resumes on January 25, 2022 with a virtual AAPI Table Talk on the Need to Acknowledge the "PI" Folks. We hope to return to in-person and hybrid conversations in February, but remain guided by COVID-19 safety guidelines and our venue's rules on gathering.

Check out the past conversations below!
Native + Indigenous Table Talk
Mental Health in Native and Indigenous Communities
Omaha Table Talk
Exploring Gender Binary and Non-Binary Experiences
Queer Table Talk
Health Disparities and Healthcare for the Queer Community
Omaha Table Talk
An Interfaith and Atheism Dialogue
Guest Contribution by Tia Manning MS LMHP LPC LADC - Mental Health Provider

Lately, I have been reflecting on my experiences as a Licensed Mental Health Therapist, to be more specific I have been reflecting on my experience attending IncluCity. I remember when I first received my license I was looking at different careers, I told myself that I never pictured myself being a therapist working with young adults. Mainly, because I didn’t think I would be good at it.

When I was first asked to be a Mental Health therapist at IncluCity, I was excited and nervous. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but something inside of me was saying this was an opportunity that would change my life. 

From the moment I arrived at camp I was welcomed by everyone. All of the people at camp were very supportive in providing me the guidance and support I needed and would tell me to give myself grace. 

Attending IncluCity was a journey filled with growth, healing and connection not only for those new to camp, also for myself both personally and professionally. 

Through this experience I learned about the barriers our young adults face when seeking support services and how important it is to provide safe spaces for individuals to share and process what they are going through. 

I plan to continue advocating for mental health whether I am working with individuals, groups, or communities. 

As camp came to an end, I can say that I learned a lot about myself and from the people around me. I still have a lot to learn but my journey is only beginning…. 

Like they say, "never say never," 

Thank you Inclusive Communities for giving me such an amazing opportunity to be a part of IncluCity, you have changed my life forever!